For the small but devoted band of Duckie Brown fans (I count myself among them), the last few years have been fallow ones. It has been mostly out of stores, even those, like Barneys New York, that had been its staunchest supporters. Steven Cox and Daniel Silver, the Duckies of Duckie, have not staged a runway show since 2016.
These are challenging times for the fashion business in general, and especially for those fashion businesses that are small and independent, not flush with investment capital or the leverage of a luxury group. And Mr. Cox and Mr. Silver’s designs have never been accused of playing it safe.
They did not want for critical raves, nominations for fashion’s top awards (they were in the running for the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Men’s Wear Designer of the Year award most recently in 2013) or creative energy. But even a pair of the most talented men’s designers in New York had to reassess.
“After 17 years, we were struggling to continue to make a viable situation,” Mr. Silver said. “So we took a pause to rethink our business. We love what we do, we just have to think about it in a different way. We couldn’t just keep trying to hang on, trying to find more retailers, doing a show. If you keep doing something the same way hoping for a different outcome, isn’t that the definition of insanity?”
They have returned with Duckie Brown - the Shop, which will be the only place to buy their collection. “No one can sell Duckie Brown better than us,” Mr. Silver said.
In their studio space on West 13th Street, Mr. Cox and Mr. Silver will greet customers by appointment only, offering new and archival Duckie pieces and a selection of things they love: ceramics by Jennefer Hoffmann, a friend; vintage pieces they have printed or embroidered over, to Duckify; photographs by Andreas Laszlo Konrath, a collaborator (and former Duckie model), whose work is on show in the first of the space’s art exhibitions.
Because the designers are on hand, pieces can be customized. Prefer your silk shirt washed for rumpled effect? Mr. Silver will take it to the machine. Rather have it short-sleeved? Mr. Cox is by your side with the scissors. The shop opens Feb. 16; appointments can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Duckie Brown style has always mixed tailoring and tradition with wit and excess. The shirts come standard size and caftan size (for men, women or whoever else, Mr. Silver said), pockets sometimes creeping up to bag size.
There will soon be straight-leg flannel trousers, but one of the key pieces Mr. Cox designed for the new collection is an adaptation of 1980s running shorts his trainer gave him, redone in leopard chiffon. Nearby hang a series of tweedy Crombies.
“You can come in and buy a coat for winter — as in, it’s cold out — but you can also buy a pair of hot pants,” Mr. Cox said. “That’s what I’m doing at the moment.”
“It will change,” he said. “It’s changing hourly. I’m moving it all around.”
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